Sunday, November 29, 2009

Still Thankful

"For the first time in the city's history, the Portland Water Bureau issued an emergency boil-water alert late Saturday afternoon to more than 50,000 customers west of the Willamette River because of an E. coli contamination."

Above is a quote from the front page of this mornings Oregonian. Amber called me from the store late yesterday afternoon and asked if I'd heard anything about having to boil our water. She overheard some people talking about it at the store as some were loading up bottled water. For about an hour or so we weren't sure if we should be cautious with our water. It turns out that we're not in the affected area.

It got me thinking about the people who will have to alter how they do some things that are ordinarily taken for granted. We drink bottled water because our plumbing has old galvanized pipes, but we're use to having water on demand for all the other household needs. To think that tap water could no longer be trusted or even available is a serious proposition that would alter how we live.

My thoughts then turn to how grateful I am to have convenient necessities which I normally don't think about. It's a reminder that everyday is a day for giving thanks.

An announcement was made about 5:00 tonight that the boil-water alert had been lifted. Further testing showed no more signs of contamination. Taps should be run for about two minutes before drinking water again.

This was the view this morning a little after 7:00 outside one of our back windows. It's a black & white image and it's looking south. It shows the vivid contrast of the various kinds of trees against the new morning sky. It's as though each one is looking with anticipation of the new day and what it will bring. They're totally reliant on the sun and oxygen and water.

"This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it." (Psalm 118:24)

Friday, November 27, 2009

Black Friday at the Mall

Look at what a beautiful day it was today, and late in November! All week it's been like this, except for yesterday, and I've been riding each day for work. Today I didn't really want to ride somewhere by myself again so I told my wife and oldest daughter that I would meet them at the mall for lunch. Wait, did I say I would meet them at the mall on Black Friday? What was I thinking?

One of the worst parts of this day at any mall is being patient, forgiving, and generous while making your way through the parking lot. No problem when you're on a bike. I figured I'd find a spot in my favorite corral when I come during the week to my "field office". These two guys work in the mall so their bikes won't be moving for a while.

Here's the food court. I should have a picture of what it normally looks like on a Friday. Here's where you do the same routine as in the parking lot except with tables and chairs.

In past years on this day I'm usually assigned to being the mule. I carry the shopping bags and occasionally shuttle them to the car. Today I spent a fair amount of time people-watching with my camera. I figured I'd take pictures of other mules and it might make an interesting blog post. But to my surprise I didn't see many.

What I did see were a lot of people using their smart phone while walking. They had the tell-tale head down and concentrating posture.


These shots were taken using stealth mode. Act like you're adjusting the camera and push the shutter button and hope the shot turns out.

It even worked on our oldest granddaughter. And hey look, she's messing with her smart phone like most everyone else.

I managed to pop this shot of the lady next to me and it turned into a two-for-one. She has an iPhone and I think she was watching a video. Or maybe posting on her blog about the guy next to her constantly adjusting his camera. What did we do before cell phones?

Another surprising observation was that many people carry their smart phone in their hand, choosing not to put it in a pocket, purse, or holster. This wouldn't work for me. I'd set it down somewhere and that would be the end of it.

These three guys look like potential mules. They have that classic blank stare and they're waiting outside the store for their significant other. They're too macho to go in Bath & Body Works. Some of that applies to me but hey, I'm on a photo assignment.

It was a good afternoon at the mall. It's interesting how having a blog causes heightened awareness about the surroundings. I've always enjoyed people-watching but have never done it with a camera. So when you go to your mall watch out for people adjusting their camera.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


 (photo courtesy
Being thankful assumes that there is someone to be thankful to, although rarely do you hear the who people are thankful to but only that they are thankful. Being generally thankful is good I guess, but it makes one wonder who gets the thanks. In our politically correct era where God is being systematically removed it's good that we still have this holiday to observe.

I thought it would be interesting to take a brief look at how the Thanksgiving holiday came about. The following was copied from Christian Answers Website.

Pilgrim Edward Winslow described the Pilgrims' Thanksgiving in these words:
"Our harvest being gotten in, our Governor sent four men on fowling [bird hunting] so that we might, after a special manner, rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors. They four in one day killed as much fowl as... served the company almost a week... Many of the Indians [came] amongst us and... their greatest King, Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted; and they went out and killed five deer, which they brought... And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet BY THE GOODNESS OF GOD WE ARE... FAR FROM WANT."
George Washington, first President of the United States. Photo courtesy of Films for Christ. In 1789, following a proclamation issued by President George Washington, America celebrated its first Day of Thanksgiving to God under its new constitution. That same year, the Protestant Episcopal Church, of which President Washington was a member, announced that the first Thursday in November would become its regular day for giving thanks, "unless another day be appointed by the civil authorities." Yet, despite these early national proclamations, official Thanksgiving observances usually occurred only at the State level. Much of the credit for the adoption of a later ANNUAL national Thanksgiving Day may be attributed to Mrs. Sarah Joseph Hale, the editor of Godey's Lady's Book. For thirty years, she promoted the idea of a national Thanksgiving Day, contacting President after President until President Abraham Lincoln responded in 1863 by setting aside the last Thursday of November as a national Day of Thanksgiving. Over the next seventy-five years, Presidents followed Lincoln's precedent, annually declaring a national Thanksgiving Day. Then, in 1941, Congress permanently established the fourth Thursday of each November as a national holiday.
Abraham Lincoln statute, Lincoln Memorial, Washington, D.C. Photo courtesy of Wallbuilders. Lincoln's original 1863 Thanksgiving Proclamation came - spiritually speaking - at a pivotal point in his life. During the first week of July of that year, the Battle of Gettysburg occurred, resulting in the loss of some 60,000 American lives. Four months later in November, Lincoln delivered his famous "Gettsysburg Address." It was while Lincoln was walking among the thousands of graves there at Gettysburg that he committed his life to Christ. As he explained to a friend:
When I left Springfield [to assume the Presidency] I asked the people to pray for me. I was not a Christian. When I buried my son, the severest trial of my life, I was not a Christian. But when I went to Gettysburg and saw the graves of thousands of our soldiers, I then and there consecrated myself to Christ.

I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving with your family and friends. We have much to be thankful for.


Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Purse and a Prayer

Friday night my wife Amber and I were watching the Portland Trailblazer basketball game on TV. They were playing the Golden State Warriors and were in the process of getting beat. Amber realized we needed a few things from the store so when she left I turned the TV off to read for a while. I was reading about Oswald Chambers in a book that I'm working my way through. I came to a passage that said that he had experienced answered prayer in his life. When I read that I thought, I would like to experience that too.

About 15 minutes later I heard the garage door open. But after a couple of minutes I realized that Amber hadn't come in yet. Then she burst through the door and said she thought she had left her purse in the shopping cart at the grocery store parking lot. As she ran out the door to double check the car, she told me to call the store. I called to give them the information as Amber was leaving to drive back.

When I hung up I immediately ask God for help. I thought of all the ramifications that would come from losing everything in her purse. I must admit I don't always think to pray when a bad situation comes, but I was just reading about prayer and this problem was too big for us to do anything ourselves. I continued to read and tried not to think about what the possibilities would be for the next few hours. The phone rang about 5 minutes later and it was Steve from the store. He was out of breath when he said, "I found it". Those were nice words to hear. Fortunately he didn't follow up with, "it's empty". I thanked him for taking the time to find it and when I hung up I thanked God.

Some might say it's coincidence while others will say it's not related and some will say it's luck. But in my humble opinion I think God was involved. Wouldn't it be possible that these kinds of experiences are happening to us more than we know but we're just not seeing it? I firmly believe that it's through the grace of God that I get to my destination each time I ride.

I told this story to some people at a meeting yesterday morning. When I was done one of the guys asked if we'd heard the story about the guy whose wife got her wallet stolen. The husband didn't report it because each month the thief was spending less than his wife.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

What's In Your Weather?

So far this week I haven't been riding much. I'd like to officially blame it on false weather information but the truth is most of the blame falls on me, as it should. Here in the Northwest where the jet stream enters the country our weather conditions are hard to predict, thus weather forecasters aren't always right.

Even with the sophisticated satellite information now a days, sometimes the best data gathering methods are people and experience. I remember years ago when I was a salesman in the restaurant industry I made a weekly call on two sisters who owned a coffee shop in St. Helens, Oregon. One Monday about this time of year they both told me that by the following Monday we'd have snow. Since it wasn't near cold enough and we don't usually get snow in November and the weather people weren't saying anything about snow, I told them no way is it going to snow. I'm glad we didn't put any money on it because sure enough within about 4 or 5 days we had snow. When I went back the following Monday I asked them how they knew. They said all you have to do is watch the elk. When they start coming out of the mountains and start feeding on the grass then you know the weather is changing. So I guess we can pull the plug on the expensive satellites and watch the elk as our ancestors did.

Each day this week brought predictions of some kind of adverse weather for the next day. Either high winds or large amounts of rain or both. Monday I rode the bike and just about got blown off the bottom deck of the Marquim Bridge. No problem, it was a good riding day but I noticed there weren't too many other bikes out. The forecast for Tuesday had heavy amounts of rain for Portland and Vancouver but it didn't materialize. There was one brief downpour in Vancouver but other than that it would have been a good riding day. Same thing for the trip to Eugene yesterday; a downpour south of Portland but it was blue sky and sunny when I arrived in Eugene. It also would have been a good riding day, although a little gusty.

Today I chose not to ride due to predictions of high winds but it would have been okay. When I got home I hopped on the bike and went to the store. Three non-riding days in a row produces some kind of poison that develops in the bloodstream. I think.  Anyway it's bad for you, it has to be because riding is good.

And here's what Mt. Hood looked like this afternoon. It's hard to see the elk but they must be there somewhere because there's snow all over it.

I would like to hear about your method for determining whether you ride or not. I realize some choose not to ride this time of year and that's understandable. Some will only stop riding if there's snow or ice, and others live in areas where weather is not a factor.  But if you still ride and are in an area with adverse conditions, does the weather report play a big factor in the decision to ride or not? And a second question is where do you get your weather information? Because the elk method is looking pretty good right now.

Riding and thinking; sometimes.

Sunday, November 15, 2009


Friday while having a phone conversation with my regional manager, he said that one of our salesmen in California, David, turned in his resignation. This news was a real shocker because David and I keep in touch on a fairly regular basis. We just spoke a couple of weeks ago and he didn't mention anything about leaving or even being unhappy.

(Depoe Bay)
Five years ago I had the privilege of mentoring him when he started with the company. Since then we've had a good friendship that's evolved over the phone and through email. Most discussions center on business but we usually talk about our faith in God.

After hanging up with my regional manager I was hit with a feeling of loss. I wondered how this would effect our friendship. Was I going to lose a friend?  David would probably be going to work for a competitor and that might change things a little. After pondering the situation for about ten minutes I decided to call him. After one ring it went right to voice mail. I left a message wishing him well and saying that whatever his reason for leaving, I'm sure it's the right decision for providing for his family. I said how much I appreciated our time working together and that if I don't get to see him again in this life, I know I'll see him in the next one.

That last statement might sound arrogant but it's not meant to be. It's stated with the utmost humility because it's not rooted in anything that I've done. There aren't too many things in this world that give us assurance. Life is getting more complex and with more uncertainty each year. We all know this and we all have doubts and struggles. But if you believe in God and have read or heard anything from the Bible then you know there is one sure thing that we can count on, and that's the fact that God keeps His promises. The assurance of going to heaven is not based on anything we do but on what a loving God has done for us through His Son. Realizing this truth and accepting it gives great comfort and confidence.

(Depoe Bay)
What does all of this have to do with riding? Having assurance of eternal security gives life a new perspective. The risks involved with riding are still there but once the issue of our eternal future is secure, there is far less to lose.

David called back and we had a good talk about things. He's going to work for the competition and a previous manager we use to have. We agreed to keep in touch similar to the way we have but with less talk about business.

(Nehalem - Nehalem Bay)
As a side note, I went to the jail Friday afternoon. The inmate I mentioned about a month ago who was defending himself had his trial. I happened to see him and he told me with a big smile that he won. He was found innocent on all counts. He was released later that afternoon. I can't imagine the burden lifted off of his shoulders. Defending yourself and being found innocent is extremely rare. He's a blessed man and I wish him well.

I've used some images taken Thursday and Friday while working at the coast. I can't help but be amazed at the beauty of our world. Think about its vastness whether viewed from a microscope or a telescope. Hope you got to view it this weekend over your handlebars.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A Simple Afternoon

This is one of the offices that I frequent as a traveling salesman on a motorcycle. It might not look like an office. In fact it's "The Atrium" at Emanuel Medical Center in Northeast Portland. This is what I like to refer to as the Northeast Field Office. Before I started riding the Vespa last year, the car was the field office. This is a great place to have lunch and get caught up on things after seeing people in the morning. This office has Wi-Fi and food nearby.

This one doesn't. This type of office just flares up when needed. A spontaneous office needs to have cover over it as this one does. Sometimes finding a spontaneous office is a challenge. This office is simple though.

We have a complex called World Trade Center in downtown Portland. It's a group of three buildings connected with an A-frame catwalk and protected with glass. Tuesday I had a meeting with a customer in one of the buildings. The architecture is interesting but not simple.

A view of downtown before the meeting.

This is after the meeting. We call this "Oregon Sunshine" because it happens a lot. 

I still had time on the meter so I walked a couple of blocks to Lownsdale Square across from the courthouse. The rain had stopped. It was a nice autumn afternoon downtown.

On a quest to notice simple things, the park is a good spot to practice.

Before getting back on the bike I walked a couple of blocks to a bakery for an afternoon snack. This is not the bakery. Earlier I was experimenting with what I thought might be simplicity as I left Emanuel Medical Center. I managed to get a few interesting looks while doing this. In this case I think intended simplicity turned out complicated. Something to watch out for.

Just riding and thinking.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Greater Love

A thought for this Veterans Day.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Simple Things

The simple things in life are grabbing my attention these days...

Usually too busy to notice I walk right on by.  I must be missing a lot.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Portland Leaf Status

We're more than halfway through fall and not all of the leaves are down in Portland. In the early 80's we lived in Connecticut for a short time. I remember most of the trees being bare by Halloween. It seems here in the Northwest the changing of the leaves is a slower process than in the East. Our milder temperatures probably contribute to that.

The beauty in the scenery this time of year mixed with the long shadows produces quite a few photo opportunities. All of this comes together so quickly it can be easy to miss unique moments.

It's a call to those who enjoy taking pictures to keep a camera handy at all times. Which reminds me of a recent post by Chuck Pefley who took a camera to his dentist appointment. You wouldn't think you'd find too many photo opportunities at the dentist, but he got a great shot of a high-flying window washer doing his work right outside the window.

On the ride to the county jail this morning in the crisp fall air, I think I got a slight scent of bacon cooking while I was passing by a house. A little further ahead I smelled smoke from a wood burning stove. And shortly beyond that a couple of wedges of Canadian Geese were flying over the Jackson Bottom Slough. They were coming in for a landing, arriving I think from Bobskoot's area.

Enjoying little experiences like this makes me grateful for recently re-discovering the joys of riding. I was starting to waffle on riding everyday because of the weather turning colder and wetter. But I've decided to ride as much as possible as we head toward the dark days of winter.

The above photo was taken a few years ago in Corvallis. The age of the car and the neighborhood gives the feeling that it might be the 50's. Not that I would know...I've only seen cars from the 50's on TV. Okay I was around in the 50's.

Seeing all these leaves makes me realize I need to rake.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Meeting Irondad

Yesterday was a great day!  The forecast called for rainy, windy weather but I knew that at then end of the 70 mile ride to Corvallis I'd be having lunch with Dan. I was really looking forward to meeting him. We've been kind of thinking about getting together for a couple of months. It turns out that we know some of the same people in the line of work that we each do.

We met at a Subway sandwich shop at noon and didn't part ways until almost 2:30. For me that time just flew by.
From the moment you meet Dan you can tell that he's a great guy with a big caring heart. He's passionate about riding and sharing his knowledge to help others. But of course all of you who have followed his blog through the years already know this.
On the way back to the Portland area I stopped by my favorite off-the-road spot when coming back from Corvallis. The rain that we were suppose to have didn't materialize until evening.

I'm new at blogging and fairly new to riding. Dan offered tips in both of these areas. On the trip home I even managed to keep my nose pointed in the direction of the exit on a couple of turns and hold it there. It really works! More stability and confidence!

Thanks Dan, it was good to meet you. See you out there again soon.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A Visit to Northwest Portland

Portland is divided into four quadrants. The Willamette (Will-AM-ette) River separates the east and west sides of the city while Burnside St. divides north and south. When people describe a location of something in town they usually say, "It's in Northwest" or "Southeast",etc.

Northwest Portland is west of the river and north of Burnside and is probably best known for it's quaint neighborhoods with turn-of-the-century Victorian houses.  There are a lot of trendy restaurants and assorted retail shops on Northwest 23rd Avenue (pictured in the two images above).

The Nob Hill area of Northwest, which is around NW 23rd, is one of the most desirable areas to live in Portland. From here it's easily to take a bus or train a short distance to downtown. Papa Haydn's is a favorite restaurant on NW 23rd.

The hills of Northwest have some of the most expensive homes in Portland. Many students live in the area because the University of Portland and Portland State University are both fairly close.

And then there's Powell's Books in the Pearl District which claims to be the largest independent new and used bookstore in the world. It occupies a whole city block with over 68,000 square feet of retail space. This is a very interesting place to browse.

This little unassuming place is the Stepping Stone Cafe home of the Mancakes. I've not eaten here yet but I hear it's pretty good. And since I love pancakes this is on my list of places to go. Check out the video below and decide for yourself.

In a few weeks I plan to re-visit Northwest in the early evening after the Christmas decorations are in place. By then I might have some of those Stepping Stone Mancakes. Stay tuned.